FELTAG a directive, an aspiration or just common sense?

For a while there, I believed that the FELTAG report might be just the kick up the backside so richly deserved by the management of many Learning Providers to engage in the use of current technology.  I still believe that the objective will be achieved, but I fear that it may be later than the original target date.

feltag report incentive-8I recall when during a presentation of the government’s response to the report, I disappointed our manager by expressing the view that the FELTAG report was absolutely on the money with recommendations and very much in keeping with what we (RSCs) and other agencies had been ‘preaching’ for years. Even the government response seemed appropriate, in fact an excellent start. But in my view it lacked teeth to shake the sector from its complacency. The primary exception being that the report called for a significant percentage of courses being made available online and would be an element of funding and inspection.

Making courses available on-line ticked a multitude of boxes, so this was no small thing. From digitising learning materials, to on-line delivery with appropriate staff development right across the board.

Although the government response reduced the percentage significantly it was at least being included and even though there were ministerial changes it appeared to be going forward. Then in February 2015 the minister confirmed that ‘it has no plans to actually enforce the 10% mandatory element’ – Really?

We are not expecting providers to convert 10% of learning delivery in each programme of study ‘en bloc’ to online to meet a ‘directive’. Rather, we are encouraging providers to establish a strategy to determine where the adoption of a greater ‘blend’ of delivery and assessment types adds most value to a learning programme – Skills Funding Agency.

I appreciate that this was not about “Government enforcement” but the message seemed clear to get on with it or pay the price.  So without, as someone recently said, a perceived reason to ‘go into a blind panic’, the majority that haven’t yet embraced technology, as proposed, are unlikely to be rushing in to do anything about it anytime soon. Especially with more serious issues to contend with such as ‘who gets the funding (employers)’ and reduced funding.

There are of course clear signs of activity and action which go some way toward the original recommendations, not least the momentum gained through the efforts of the FELTAG Coalition with the support of provider networks and the SFA working toward the inclusion in the ILR of a significant percentage of learning delivery by 2019. So there is obvious hope for the future, but in the meantime, the effect on learners, employers of some organisations will be business as usual.

What concerns me now is that the programme appears to be leaning toward raising awareness, (been there, done that) laudable aims, just a little short of ‘stick’ to deliver. The main aims will of course prevail and the recommendations have always been, in my mind, just good common sense and worthy of implementation. But I am also aware of learning providers and particularly individual practitioners that have either never heard of FELTAG, or are greatly concerned, or are still paying lip service to the recommendations. For those learning providers in particular, I feel that the following quote is most apt:

Meanwhile, whether by joining up with the FELTAG Coalition, which would in my opinion be a very good move, or developing your own course of action. I would suggest that an organisation that is serious about using technology in the most effective way, as outlined in the report, take a strategic view of their current position and start ticking all the boxes that are recommended and appropriate.  In my opinion it’s just common sense.

Colin Gallacher
eLearning Adviser

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